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Your Thursday Update: FC Dallas Withdraws From Tournament, AdventHealth Moves to Phase Two Emergency, Coleman Prison Near the Villages Sees Spike in Cases, Florida Adds Nearly 9,000 New Cases

Photo: Emilio Garcia @piensaenpixel

A second team has been withdrawn from the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Major League Soccer says nine players on the Nashville FC team had confirmed positive test results for COVID-19. 

In a statement, MLS commissioner Don Garber said the team has not been able to train since arriving at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World Resort. 

On Monday, FC Dallas was withdrawn from the competition after 10 players and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. 

The twenty four remaining teams are playing 16 days of matches in six groups, followed by a knockout round and a final on August 11th. 

AdventHealth confirms it has activated “phase two”

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

AdventHealth has confirmed it has activated a quote, “phase two” emergency because of COVID-19.

On a call with reporters Thursday, AdventHealth CEO Daryl Tol says the hospital system is moving staff around to prepare for the expected increase in hospitalized patients. 

Tol said the hospital is in the yellow zone in a four-tiered system going from green to yellow to orange to red.

“When you add all those beds, you have the equipment, you have the protective equipment, where do you get your staff? And that’s what we’re working on now. We are working on lease agreements for staff groups to come from areas that are less challenged, hiring temporary staff, hiring permanent staff,” Tol said.

Florida added nearly 9,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases yesterday. 

Yesterday alone, 20 percent of test results came back positive, the highest percent recorded since late March when testing ramped up.

Need 2 minutes of calm? Inhale, exhale … and click here

Susan Stamberg, NPR

Sometimes it’s good to be irrelevant.

Too much relevance can get you down.

Especially in these days of virus, economic pressures, racial discord.

We need a break.

In that spirit I offer something that has nothing — and as you’ll see everything — to do with our turmoiled lives and times:

Looks like a beautiful old vase, right? Well, it is old — made in 17th century India — and beautiful. But it’s not for holding flowers.

It’s the bottom of a rather elaborate construction designed to make its owner relaxed … happier maybe … anyway, zoned out.

Explore art with Stamberg by clicking here.

Coleman Prison near the Villages sees spike in new coronavirus cases

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Eighty-five inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at a prison in the large Coleman federal complex west of The Villages.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that FCI Coleman Medium — which houses 1,400 men — also has seven staff members with the coronavirus.

Three other prisons at Coleman have cases, too. All told, at least 87 inmates and 20 staff members have tested positive.

No coronavirus deaths have been reported there. 

Nationwide, at least 94 federal inmates have died from COVID-19 and one staff member.

Florida adds almost 9,000 new coronavirus cases

Danielle Prieur, WMFE 

The Florida Department of Health reported 8,935 new coronavirus cases in the state on Thursday. That brings the total case count in Florida since the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March to 232,718.

More than 17,000 people have been hospitalized in the state and 4,111 people have died.

Elsewhere in Central Florida, here are the rundowns so far:

Orange County: 15,595 cases, 527 hospitalizations, 69 deaths

Osceola County: 3,466 cases, 211 hospitalizations, 31 deaths

Seminole County: 3,806 cases, 198 hospitalizations, 21 deaths

Volusia County: 3,234 cases, 277 hospitalizations, 67 deaths

Brevard County: 2,985 cases, 160 hospitalizations, 26 deaths

Lake County: 2,181 cases, 144 hospitalizations, 26 deaths

Sumter County: 549 cases, 75 hospitalizations, 18 deaths

Latino group launches $10M campaign to boost voter turnout

The Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — A national organization that aims to boost Latino voter turnout is launching a $10 million campaign in several 2020 battleground states.

The campaign by Mi Familia Vota is starting in Arizona and Florida, where Democrats hope to swing votes toward their presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

Both major political parties are courting Latino voters this year.

The advertising campaign announced Thursday comes amid growing concerns about Latino turnout in a year when that community has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus.

Parades, close-ups with Mickey out as Disney World reopens

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” will look different to visitors who have previously visited Walt Disney World.

Some major changes aimed at preventing the spread of the new coronavirus will be in place when two of Disney’s four parks open this weekend.

There will be no firework shows or parades, and visitors will be getting temperature checks when they enter. Everyone has to wear a mask and maintain social distance. No hopping between parks is allowed and visitors will need reservations to enter.

The parks are reopening even as Florida is seeing an upswing in confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Tampa has tenth largest increase in unpaid mortgages nationally

Lisa Peakes, WUSF

Florida ranks fifth in the country for unpaid mortgages. Ten and a half percent of people with home loans are not current on their payments.

According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the national delinquency rate increased to 7.8 percent, its highest since 2011.

Three Florida cities were among those with the largest monthly increase in unpaid mortgages. Tampa was tenth, Orlando was third, and Miami topped the nation.

In terms of overall delinquency, Mississippi leads the nation with more than twelve percent of homeowners delinquent.

But, because of forbearance programs due to the coronavirus, foreclosures hit a record low in May.

Feds charge Florida man, sons with selling fake virus cure

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a Florida man and his three sons are facing federal charges that they illegally sold a bleach-like chemical mixture as a miracle cure for the coronavirus and other diseases.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that the substance marketed as Miracle Mineral Solution was sold nationwide through an entity called the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing in Bradenton, Florida.

A Miami federal judge in April ordered the self-styled church to stop selling the substance, but authorities say they ignored the order.

Charged in the criminal complaint are 62-year-old Mark Grenon and his sons with two conspiracy counts and criminal contempt.

Experts rate the risk of summer activities


There’s no such thing as a zero-risk outing right now.

As states begin allowing businesses and public areas to reopen, decisions about what’s safe will be up to individuals.

Here’s how to think through the risks the way the experts do.

Ravens quarterback cancels Florida event amid virus surge

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has canceled his annual “Funday with LJ” event in Florida due to surging coronavirus cases in the state and strict gathering limits.

Jackson’s third annual event was set to be held Saturday and Sunday in his hometown of Pompano Beach, Florida, but a spokesperson told news outlets Tuesday that the event was canceled.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in Pompano Beach due to the pandemic.

Instead of allowing a few people to attend the event, Jackson decided to cancel it.

The event was scheduled to start a week after Florida reported a single-day record of 11,445 cases.

Florida legislator recovering from virus; cases rising

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida legislator says he is recovering from the coronavirus but his parents are now infected.

State Rep. Shevrin Jones, 36, tested positive last week after showing up at the emergency room with fever, chills and trouble breathing.

The Broward County Democrat said Wednesday he is feeling better, but is fearful about his 71- and 74-year-old parents, who both tested positive this week.

Florida is one of the nation’s hot spots for coronavirus.

Almost 10,000 confirmed cases were added Wednesday, bringing the state’s total since March 1 to nearly 224,000.

Almost 4,000 people have died, including 48 reported by the state Wednesday.

Morgan DeBaun on leadership and the future of Black news during the pandemic, protests

How I Built This, NPR

Since it’s founding in 2014, Blavity Inc. a massive platform made for and by Black millennials, has covered everything from travel and tech, to politics and news, to entertainment and lifestyle.

For founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun, a modern newsroom should be built to serve its communities, and legacy media companies aren’t measuring up.

MLS returns to action after poignant moment of silence

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Nearly 200 players took the field for an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence to protest racial injustice before Major League Soccer’s return to action Wednesday night.

Players wore black T-shirts, black gloves and black face masks emblazoned with Black Lives Matter.

The players walked toward midfield, raised their right arms one at a time and held the pose so long that some could be seen stretching fatigued muscles afterward.

It was a poignant moment that put two of the nation’s most prominent changes over the last four months, masks and movements at the forefront of the sport’s return.

There’s something different about the COVID-19 cases in The Villages

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Cases in The Villages have risen by 64 percent over the past week to a total of 193 cases

Gov. Ron DeSantis repeats often that Florida’s soaring new cases of COVID-19 are mostly among younger adults who are less likely to develop serious illness.

That’s not the case in Sumter County, where most of The Villages retirement community sits and where the population’s median age is 67.

Among Sumter County’s 37 new cases Wednesday, half the patients are 68 or older. Only one of them is under the age of 49 and 16 are at least 70 years old.

Sumter County health officials say fighting the pandemic with an older population presents, “a unique challenge.”

They urge residents to limit interactions, practice social distancing, wash their hands and wear a mask in public.

But even with a mask, they say, you still need the other precautions.

Tallahassee budget officials expecting a significant revenue shortfall

Regan McCarthy, WFSU

Tallahassee budget officials are expecting a significant revenue shortfall caused by the impacts of the coronavirus.

City Manager Reese Goad says the city will take in about 23 million dollars less by the end of the year than forecasters had initially predicted. Goad says that deficit will be offset by a combination of grants, relief funds and savings.

“We are working to reduce operating expenditures to end the year with a balanced budget. We see a similar strategy for fiscal year 2021,” Goad said.

City commissioners are working out the details of next fiscal year’s spending plan which begins in October.

Commissioners have voted to keep the property tax the same, and are looking for savings in other areas.

Officials hope that can be done through one-time actions that won’t involve cutting services or jobs.

Your boss wants you back. But is it safe?

NPR Life Kit, NPR

Returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This episode helps workers understand their rights, including current rules about unemployment, safety concerns and underlying conditions.

Jefferson County School District still drafting reopening plans for the fall

Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

Jefferson County Schools are still drafting reopening plans for the fall. The district is considering a hybrid plan for some students.

Superintendent Marianne Arbulu says students may have the option to come to school physically on some days and virtually on others.

“Kind of a couple of days on, couple of days off with active remote learning going on while the students are at home—and again—that is in draft mode and may or may not be implemented,” Arbulu said.

Arbulu says whether or not this will be offered may depend on student and parent demand for a hybrid option.

Jefferson County will still be required to open schools physically five days a week in the fall.

Kriseman hints at more St. Petersburg restrictions if coronavirus spread worsens

Carl Lisciandrello, WUSF

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is issuing a warning in response to the recent surge in coronavirus cases in Pinellas County.

During a Facebook Live update on Tuesday, Kriseman said his preference would be to have standard restrictions in place across the state, but he would act in the best interest of St. Petersburg residents if necessary.

“If we can’t have a statewide policy, I’d like to see a regional policy, if it can’t be regional, then we’d like to see it countywide, and certainly if it doesn’t happen, St. Pete will lead the way and we’ll take action if we need to,” Kriseman said.

Kriseman praised residents for following the county’s mandate to wear face coverings in public.

But he also said the city will act if the number of cases and the percentage of positive tests do not improve.

New report offers ways to increase access to voting during the pandemic

Blaise Gainey, WFSU

The new report out this week is urging states to make changes to their voting processes amid the pandemic.

The study, from the University of California Los Angeles, recommends increasing access to the polls through a series of steps.

Among the suggestions: more polling sites, longer periods for early voting and a push to increase vote-by-mail. Sunni Waknin is the managing legal fellow with the UCLA Voting Rights Project.

“We should encourage people, make it easier to vote through the mail to decrease the amount of people that feel the need to go and vote in person on Election Day or during early voting. But we also need to increase our polling locations. We need to ensure that people who are election workers are safe so providing PPE and safety kits,” Waknin said.

Elections supervisors in Florida have also asked for some of the same suggestions listed above.

One of their requests is to extend the amount of time for elections.

They want it extended from 14 to 22 days.

Hello, neighbor: How one Irish county rallied around seniors during the pandemic

Rough Translation, NPR

Ireland’s “cocooning” policy during the coronavirus lockdown asked people over age 70 to stay at home and not to leave for any reason.

Suddenly, neighbors and strangers leapt to help them with everything — if the cocooners would let them.

Contact tracing in Florida has challenges, but solutions exist

Veronica Zaragovia, WLRN

Critics say South Florida has too few tracers. Others say they’re not asking enough questions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says one problem with contact tracing is that some infected people aren’t helping.

“The younger folks aren’t cooperating with contact tracers. And so when they’re trying to call, they’re just not getting a lot of, a lot of support,” DeSantis said.

Dr. Aileen Marty is an infectious disease expert at Florida International University.

Here she brings up another problem on CNN:

“Our contact tracing questionnaire doesn’t give us the finesse to identify exactly many of the original sources of disease because they’re not even part of the questionnaire,” Marty said.

State Representative Shevrin Jones has COVID-19.

He says a Broward County contact tracer called him last week and used that questionnaire.

“And her phone dropped and I haven’t heard from her since Thursday,” Jones said.

According to state data, more than 84,000 Florida residents who have COVID-19 have not been contacted.

“I would hope that our goal never would be to give up. If you have COVID in your community, that’s literally people’s lives.”

That’s Dr. Candice Chen, a professor at George Washington University. She worked on a model that helps states and counties figure out how many contact tracers they need.

She says Florida just has some work to do, like hire more contact tracers. And get quicker test results.

Miami-Dade County orders restaurants to close indoor dining

Amber Amortegui, WLRN

Dining restrictions at restaurants have gone back into effect Thursday in Miami-Dade County.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered restaurants to close their indoor seating after a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid says he was not notified of the county’s plans to roll back the reopening. He also owns a cafe.

“It’s demoralizing specifically to workers. They were out of work the first round, now they came back, they complied with all the proper regulations, they’ve done all the right things, and, to no fault of their own, now they’re being told again, ‘Hey, you’re without a job’,” Cid said.

Nick Sharp owns Threefold Cafe. He says the county’s messaging confused people.

The original order did not allow any type of dining, even outdoors.

“I know restaurants had meetings with their staff on Monday when the announcement came out and furloughed their employees … Monday night they have to call them all back again and go, ‘Oh actually we have outdoor dining, we can stay open’,” Sharp said.

Carlos Garcia is a waiter at Juvia in Miami Beach.

“We should’ve been going back to work now or even later. Just so that we can move past it all together instead of having that instability, that roller coaster up and down,” Garcia said.

Garcia says working limited hours during a pandemic — with just a trickle of tourists — adds to the instability.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »